City’s complex hosts its first tournament

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Soccer fans and non-fans alike ventured out to the City of Socorro’s new sports complex as it played host to its first big event Saturday.

Susann Mikkelson — for El Defensor Chieftain: New Mexico Tech Miners player No. 12 Megdiel Garcia attempts to steal the ball from a Fort Lewis player during Saturday night’s game under the lights. Tech won the match 2-0.

The New Mexico Tech Miners soccer team competed in a three-team exhibition tournament with Fort Lewis College and the University of Texas at El Paso as the new turf underwent its first real test.

“It was a decent-sized crowd,” Tech coach Brad Winton said. “It was very successful and helped promote the new complex.”

The complex received rave reviews from players and coaches from all the teams, according to Winton.

Teams competing in the event have played a number of different venues and complexes, and the Socorro facility was impressive to visiting coaches, Winton added.

“Driving out there, (teams) didn’t expect to see something that nice,” he mentioned. “Everyone was impressed by the setup.”

Construction on the complex began roughly three years ago, according to City of Socorro Parks, Recreation and Water Director Lloyd Martinez. The City asked players and coaches to fill out questionnaires to gather their opinions and thoughts on the new fields, Martinez said, and all comments were positive.

UTEP players signed a ball and presented it to the City, commemorating the first official goal scored at the new complex, Martinez added.

“It was a good turnout,” he said. “A lot of players said it was like a little oasis in the middle of the desert.”

The project cost the city an estimated $200,000, not counting the leveling it took to prepare the land, Martinez said. The price tag included irrigation and installing utilities at the complex. The area previously had no sewer, water or electricity, Martinez added. Restrooms should be completed in a few months.

Winton and Martinez agreed portions of the fields were still a little rough and need a little more time to grow in.

“The grass isn’t even two years old yet,” Martinez added.

The City hopes the complex will not only be used for sporting events but carnivals and concerts as well, according to Martinez. Concession stands are planned, and the complex should be fully operational by September, he added.

“It’s going to be big when it gets finished,” Martinez said.

UTEP came away with two victories at the exhibition, beating Tech 4-0 and Fort Lewis 5-1. In what was the highlight of the day, Tech beat Fort Lewis 2-0 in the evening game under the lights.

Winton expressed his gratitude to the City for all the work done on the complex.

“Socorro just hadn’t had anything like that,” he said.